Today in Class


April 23 - End of Year

posted Apr 25, 2019, 12:03 PM by Holly Castille   [ updated May 15, 2019, 11:05 AM ]

Students had the opportunity to take the TSI. This is a college-readiness test accepted by Texas colleges and universities to determine class placement (ie, remedial coursework or credit classes) for those who did not reach the benchmark score on the SAT or ACT. Those who passed earned a 100 on their English III final exam.

The Great Gatsby
Watch a video and/or do online research about the infamous writer F. Scott Fitzgerald and write notes to create his Facebook profile.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

YouTube Video

Context and Introduction
We looked at key historical events that affected the characters in The Great Gatsby. We read the first three pages of Chapter 1 and tried to answer the following questions about the narrator, Nick Carroway:
  1. How does he view people, and how do people tend to treat him?
  2. Where is Nick from? What kind of family?
  3. Where did he graduate from college?
  4. What did he first do after college?
  5. Where did he go next, and why?
  6. He is going to tell us a story about Gatsby… when (season, year) does the story begin?

We watched the movie, taking notes and discussing along the way. Major grades included writing questions and having a Socratic Seminar, and creating a Blackout Poem with text from The Great Gatsby.

Blackout Poem Instructions
Watch this video:

Blackout Poetry

Create your poem and attach it to cardstock. On the back, attach an index card with the following:
In complete sentences and written as a paragraph, explain the mood or tone you gave your poem; what was your anchor word, and why did it appeal to you?; what the poem means to you.

April 10-April 22, 2019

posted Apr 18, 2019, 7:55 AM by Holly Castille



Type essays in Google Classroom for a major grade.

Résumé Grading Rubric

Best and Correct?

Never or Sometimes


Most of the Time







Formatting and Spacing

Effective Verbs, Proper Tense

March 25 - April 8

posted Mar 26, 2019, 2:37 PM by Holly Castille   [ updated Apr 15, 2019, 12:29 PM ]

Personal Narrative (aka college application essay).

March 24-25
Students made a list of 21 Details About You. My list included: I put cinnamon on my cereal; I am still in touch with my 3rd grade teacher; I'm still searching for a good pillow. A few from student lists included: I fall in love every 10 minutes; I want to be in a world of magic; my favorite war is the Spanish-American War; I pray 5 prayers every day.

We listened to Ishamel Beeah's story "Unusual Normality" and discussed his imagery and message.

March 27-28
A Day students had a presentation from the Connally College and Career Center and a USMC representative.

We listened to Dante Jackson tell a story about a night that changed them (read transcripts here) and discussed the details and imagery that made his story better.

Students reviewed brainstorming organizers (the "Challenges" essay and the "Identity" or "Goals" essay) and chose a subject for their personal narrative/college application essay.

March 29-April 1
We listened to Maryam Zaringhalam explain how she became smart because she cheated in fourth grade (read transcripts here) and discussed the devices she used to support her thesis.

Students wrote a rough draft of their essay.

April 2-3
Students selected new independent reading books in the library and then edited/revised their essays.

April 4-8
Students typed their essays in Google Classroom and turned them in electronically.

Jan. 29 - March 14, 2019

posted Feb 14, 2019, 6:22 AM by Holly Castille   [ updated Mar 12, 2019, 2:28 PM ]

We have been busy reading and discussing novels in literature circles (book clubs) and focusing on different aspects. 

Students are also brainstorming for the three Apply Texas college application essay prompts so they can decide which one to focus on after Spring Break.

Jan. 18-28, 2019

posted Jan 23, 2019, 3:02 PM by Holly Castille

Students did rounds of "speed dating" with new independent reading time book selections. We will read in small groups and discuss.

Over two days, we wrote a practice SAT essay. The annotation/planning on day 1 was a major grade, the final essay a second major grade. See this packet.

Jan. 16-17, 2019

posted Jan 16, 2019, 1:00 PM by Holly Castille

Students reviewed the levels of questioning, read a play adaptation of Herman Melville's story Bartleby, the Scrivener, and held a Socratic Seminar to discuss it.

Jan. 10-15, 2019

posted Jan 15, 2019, 12:16 PM by Holly Castille

Students met with their counselor to see their PSAT results and sign up for College Board accounts. 

We practiced annotating persuasive texts and speeches for rhetorical analysis.

Jan. 8-9, 2019

posted Jan 8, 2019, 6:42 AM by Holly Castille

Happy New Year!

It can be difficult making goals and resolutions without ideas, so today is all about identifying your key personality traits and researching careers that could be a good match, and then what kind of training or education is required.

Complete instructions are in Google Classroom.


posted Dec 14, 2018, 10:09 AM by Holly Castille   [ updated Dec 14, 2018, 1:09 PM ]

Students need to bring their independent reading selection to the midterm.

The test is open note. Helpful notes from this semester include:

Nov. 26 - Dec. 13

posted Nov 28, 2018, 6:33 AM by Holly Castille   [ updated Dec 6, 2018, 2:10 PM ]

Nov. 26-27
Students journaled and shared their memories with children's books: What books do you remember? Who read to you?

We read and discussed My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss, and then students read and analyzed a variety of children's books in small groups, making their own notes here.

Students practiced correcting capitalization and punctuation errors, and took notes on capitalization rules.

Writing a Children's Book - Projects due Dec. 10-11.

Dec. 12-13

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